The Justice Department has started a criminal investigation into charges that Bush administration officials leaked the name of a covert CIA operative. The Washington Post says the possibility is open that a special prosecutor will be named.
President Bush called the probe “a good thing” and said he has told aides “to be fully cooperative.” “There’s just too many leaks, and if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is,” the president said. “If the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.”
The White House said the Justice Department was looking for records of contacts with three journalists: syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak, and Newsday reporters Knut Royce and Timothy M. Phelps.
The Post said the investigation was begun by career counterespionage section chief John Dion, without consulting Attorney General John Ashcroft. A spokesman said Ashcroft could name a special counsel to take over as facts emerge. “No legal options are closed,” the spokesman said. “Part of what is being investigated is whether there was an actual violation of law. That has not been determined yet.”